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CASE STUDY #10: The Bedford Independent - Securing Access to Vital Information

Area of Influence: Bedford Borough


Follow: @BedfordIndy

The Bedford Independent is a news site for the people of Bedford that seeks to provide readers with easy access to genuine news from the local area.

Responding to Covid-19: Securing access to vital information

From an early stage of the coronavirus crisis the Bedford Independent recognised there was an increase in rumour and scaremongering being spread amongst the community and across social media with regards to Coronavirus.

While day-to-day reporting on the site sought to tackle this misinformation, the editorial team were aware that there were individuals in the Bedford area, predominantly older people, without online access and still reliant on print, who were not receiving trustworthy information regarding the virus.

With the only other print title in the Bedford area initially decreasing its print run before eventually closing all together, the Bedford Independent team decided it was necessary to step in and to make sure vital, accurate information was made available to everyone in the local community.

Working with Bedford Borough Council and the NHS, the Bedford Independent created ‘Keep calm, we’re Bedfordians - an essential guide during extraordinary times’.

The Covid-19 leaflet produced by the Bedford Independent and Bedford Borough Council and the NHS.

This four-page leaflet was pulled together by the publication’s editorial team with design work carried out by local designer Emma Lemon (@typegal). The mission of creating the leaflet was to create a jargon free and easy to read guide to what the initial lockdown meant for local residents and the support available to them, should they need it.

Erica Roffe, Managing Editor of the Bedford Independent: “The collective effort in Bedford to support the frontline staff and the vulnerable members of our community really struck a chord with us.”

“The majority of people are working together for the greater good, but there is wealth of misinformation and scaremongering – particularly on social media – so we wanted to share the facts and sources of trusted information in one place." Erica Roffe, Managing Editor at Bedford Independent.

The leaflet was well received, and producing both digital and print versions meant that it was able to reach a wide number of people. Readers were encouraged to share the leaflet with as many people as possible, especially vulnerable friends and family.

“We’re all in this together, and by working together, sharing the love, not the virus, we’ll get through this together.” Erica Roffe, Managing Editor at Bedford Independent.

In the face of the Covid-19 crisis, the Bedford Independent took extra steps to support the Bedford community by ensuring the provision of vital health and well-being information to all residents, but especially to the elderly and those most at risk from the pandemic. They went beyond their traditional role to plug an information gap affecting the local community in response to the crisis.

The work of the Bedford Independent and many other independent news publishers during the Covid-19 crisis exemplifies the public benefit these publications work towards, the capacity to enact real change in their communities they have and why it is urgent to #saveindependentnews.

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